Category - General

Q&A: When Good Dogs Go Bad


I have a 4 month old husky / shepherd mix. I’ve had her for 2 months and from the start I did crate training. At first she was fine but now she hates her crate. She soils the crate at night cause she knows I’ll have to take her out of it to clean, she barks and howls until you let her out and she shreds the bedding when you ignore her. It’s not like I don’t take her out at night either. I’m at a loss. I can’t leave the house during the day without hiring a pet sitter because she chews the crate when you leave for short amounts of time.


Hi Alexie. husky-puppy

You have a few options that you can try. If you have an appropriate space, and are not set on sticking with the crate, you could try and close her in a laundry room or bathroom. This gives her a little more space but still confines her so you don’t have any accidents or destruction issues in the house (make sure there is nothing around that she can get). If she chews up her bed, I would just put an old towel down for now.

If you want to stick with the crate, it is important to put her in there frequently for short periods of time. No matter which you choose to do, this is the strategy you want to use. (You can put a bone or a stuffed kong in there with her so she has something fun to do when you go for longer periods of time).

I would put her in, pick up your keys, walk out for a few minutes and then return. Make sure when you leave you show no emotion. You put her in close the door, and leave. When you return you open the door and let her out. No big hellos or goodbyes, make coming and going a ‘non-event’.

Make sure you give her a good walk before putting her in for a long period of time. For dogs, sometimes even negative attention is better then no attention.

By four months, she should be starting to be able to hold her bladder through the night. Make sure you feed her no later then 5pm, and no water after 7pm. Take her out to relieve just before you go to bed and put her in the crate/room. If you do have to get up in the middle of the night, give her no attention. Simply take her out or just clean it up and put her back in. It should in no way be fun for her.

An appropriate crate is small enough so she would really have to sit in it. If you have her in a huge crate she can move away from the mess. The concept of dogs do not like to mess where they sleep only works if she literally cannot move away from it. By four months I would say you should be starting to ignore the barking in the crate. Typically the first night is very hard, the second night a little less so, and by the third or fourth night they settle down quickly because they learn it is not getting them what they want…your attention!

Let us know if this helps!


What to feed your dog

dog-food-in-bowlNow here’s something that happens often – people fall in love with a big-eyed fur ball named Spike, or Rover, or something along those lines, and they decide to make that pup a part of their family.

Off they head towards their home with their new fluffy baby, ready for a happy life filled with cuddles and slobber and chewy toys.

But as the family gathers round their table for dinner, the dog starts to yap and you wonder what on earth to put on his plate.

Luckily for you we’ve put together a guide to help you figure out what your dog needs to eat, and how much he needs to eat.

Follow this guide and you’ll be on your way to a happy, healthy and full pup. Good luck!

Is your food on our list of recommended treats? Let us know.

Show Us Yours

dog-pulling-faceDog Training Basics was made by dog lovers for dog lovers, so we want to dedicate some space to you and your beloved dogs.

If you’ve caught your dog doing something funny, eating something strange or just being a dilly dog in general, send us your photos to feature on this blog and on our Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Email us to submit your pics and stories and let’s share the dog love.

Nailed It | A Guide to Dog Nail Care

Paving is a natural nail file for dogs, but sometimes, left untrimmed, dogs nails can crack, break or bleed.

As dogs get older, they run a greater risk of getting arthritis in their feet from nails that have grown into their feet.

So, just how do you trim a dog’s nails?

The first, and often the best, option is to take your beloved pooch to the vet. It’s the stress-free option and quite handy if you have a wriggly pup. Look for a veterinary clinic where you can have this done at a lower cost.

If you feel comfortable after watching you can try clipping the nails on your own:

  • Use nail trimmers that are designed for dogsdog-nails
  • Ask someone to help you hold your dogs’ head
  • Hold each paw firmly and press down so that the nails are exposed.
  • If the nails are dark, trim small slices off to avoid damaging the soft parts. If you see a black dot in the centre of the nail, stop cutting!
  • On white nails, look out for the pink section – cutting too close to this section can result in pain and bleeding.
  • If blood is drawn, take a deep breath, reassure your dog and use cotton wool to stop the bleeding. Your vet will be able to give you guidance for the next trim.
  • If you don’t have nail styptic powder to put on the bleeding nail, you can try putting a toe in flour.
  • The dew nail is inside the leg and can form an ingrown toenail if left untrimmed.

Nail trimming should happen once a week, or twice a month for dogs that don’t walk on lots of roads or pavements. Just remember to get your dog used to the process. Practicing from the time he’s a puppy with treats like small pieces of chicken or cheese as rewards will help.

Have you found anything that helps make the process easier for you and less stressful for your pooch? Share it with us below.

What Do You Recommend?

We recently added a few new sections to the Dog Training Basics website.

The recommended products section is to help new dog parents train their furry friends,  the comprehensive list of dog trainers will help you get your dog off to a good start, and of course there is the Ask A Question section where you can submit something for our panel of expert dog trainers to answer.

Have you looked at them? Were there any that we forgot?  How about something that you recommend? Something that really helped you out when you were teaching your dog to sit, love his crate or take treats from your hand without snatching?

Comment below to let us know!

The DTB Team

The DTB Team

Ensuring A Stress-Free Relocation/Move

A move to a new home is stressful on everyone involved, including the pets! Here are some ideas to help make the transition smoother.

Some animals become stressed at the slightest hint of a change. Crates should be re-introduced if the dog hasn’t been in one for a while, and the crating routine should be started a good month or two before the actual change in residence. The best place for a dog while the packing and moving is happening is in a crate, that way, you don’t have to worry if your dog has escaped out an open door; nor do you have to worry about stepping on the dog. Cats can even be put in a cat cage for their own safety.

moving house with your dog

Before The Big Move

Take your pets to the new home to let them explore their new surroundings even before your things are moved. On leash, walk them through the house and yard outside. Let them smell and explore. For fearful or unsure dogs, have a “bag of tricks” handy to use for distraction, filled with favorite toys and irresistible treats the dog doesn’t normally get. RESIST THE URGE to comfort concerned or fearful dogs! Distract and play instead, and give treats when the dog is acting interested and not fearful. Petting and talking to the dog in a soothing voice only serves to reinforce fearfulness.

Any changes in diet, treats, or basic routine should have happened at least 2 months prior to the move. If you want to make changes, WAIT until at least 2 or 3 months after the move to introduce anything new.

If the pets’ current home is for sale, the best thing to do is to remove all pets during the showing of the house. When I sold my home and moved with my (then) 6 dogs to the country, I packed up ALL SIX of them in their crates in my van and went for a ride every time the house was shown! It did become tedious, but they were safe and out of the house.

On moving day, pets should go to a neutral, preferably familiar area (friend/relative’s house or boarding facility or doggie daycare) to remove them from the confusion, noise, yelling (we all know there will be some of that!). This way, they won’t be frightened or have any possibility of escape during the confusion. While they are away, special projects can be provided to distract and keep them busy. Examples would be stuffed Kong toys, stuffed sterile bones, puzzle toys, or any other stuffable toy that is now available to buy.

After The Big Move

Again, take the dog(s) around the house (keep distracting toys and treats handy – your “bag of tricks”) on leash to let them smell and explore. This time, familiar things will be placed throughout the house, like beds, couches, and the rest of your belongings, and the house will smell familiar.

Keep the dog(s) in small areas at first, where they can be easily supervised. A change as great as a move can confuse dogs. They may have known how to ask to go outside and they may have known where to eliminate at the old home. The new home is a whole new picture for them. Don’t assume they “should know” at first! Backtrack on potty training – show them the door, ask if they have to go outside, accompany them (even have the dog on leash) outside, and praise for eliminating appropriately. Expect “accidents”. Have cleanup supplies handy. Try to be ready so the dog(s) can be corrected and can be shown what is appropriate and expected in the new home.

Even if the dog was free in the old home (i.e. – crateless), plan to use a crate for at least one month and for up to six months or more, assuming the dog was previously crate trained. I thought foolishly that my dogs would adjust well to their new country home. I used a baby gate to confine all but my puppy into a bedroom (the puppy was crated) and left to run a quick errand. When I came home within a half-hour, Ruby had chewed large gouges into the wooden molding around the bedroom window! After that, my dogs were crated whenever I left the house for a year after I moved. Even now, they are crated on and off when I leave. Dogs appreciate routine, and having a comfortable, familiar spot helps the dog adjust.

Signs Of Stress

  • Panting
  • Pacing – overall restlessness
  • Excessive yawning
  • Licking lips (“smacking”)
  • Over-reactive to sounds or sights
  • More attention-seeking behavior (pushing at hands for petting, jumping up, clawing at your body, wanting to be close and sitting or laying touching part of your body, trying to interact with you requently with toys)
  • “Bugged eyes” look
  • Increased requests to go outside and come back in
  • Hiding
  • Destructive behavior (digging at carpet, digging more outside, more chewing of things)
  • Loose stools or diarrhea CAN be a sign of stress (or can be sign of health problem, or a change in diet, or eating odd things)

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsHave A Question?

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How To Stop Your Puppy From Chewing

chewing-on-crate-barsExcerpt from a telephone conversation:

“My puppy is getting into the woodwork, the carpet, the cupboards and messing on the floor!” “I’m getting very tired of it. How can I put a stop to this??!”

“When is your puppy doing this? Where are you when this happens?”

“Well, I put him in the kitchen with a baby gate during the day, and he works on everything periodically during the day. I’m, of course, doing my housework, laundry, etc.”

“I thought you had him crate-trained and used that…?”

“Oh, I do – at night. But I don’t want to put him in there ALL DAY too, so I keep him in the kitchen.”

The above conversation actually took place, not too long ago. I have similar conversations quite often.

Puppies are curious balls of energy. They naturally need to explore their world. Textures, smells, tastes – all entice them. They need to learn about everything. Whether you are present or not, this exploration goes on. As puppies get older, they still explore their environment – seemingly on a “search and destroy” mission.

So Why Do Puppies Chew?

Dogs and puppies “get into mischief” for many reasons:

  1. Exploration
  2. To test their limits – to find out what they are allowed to do and NOT allowed to do.
  3. Stress – often resulting from too much freedom and no apparent limits set on their behavior.
  4. To get to something else – ie: a toy hidden in the cushions of the couch.
  5. To use up energy – If you don’t exercise them, they’ll find a way!
  6. Separation Anxiety – a psychological disorder
  7. Plus a few we haven’t quite figured out yet

If you haven’t figured out my solution to the problem of destructive behavior yet, here goes:



Puppies are destined to be bad – they don’t know any better. It is up to you to guide your puppy to appropriate releases of energy. This does NOT mean your puppy will always be bad. IF you put the time and effort into showing him what is right – he will learn to be good.

Think about possible solutions to the puppy mischief that goes on when you cannot watch. You will be surprised that YOU can probably answer your own questions on how to control it.



This, of course, means puppy will be spending a lot of time in in his crate during his first year with you. IF you spend the time needed to guide your puppy as he learns your house rules, then that time will decrease as he grows and learns. YOU will need to invest time EVERY DAY in lessons in living for puppy. This time investment should happen naturally as your day progresses. You don’t need to have guilt driving you (gosh, I need to TRAIN my dog. I need to spend a half hour or he wont’ grow up to be a GOOD DOG…). Lessons may only be 5 minutes long. Puppies don’t have the attention span for long lessons. They do need consistent guidance.


This can be accomplished in a couple of ways:

Invest in enough baby gates to barricade him into a small area where you are. This works well – if you remember to WATCH him! Your thoughts can never wander far from the puppy!

Buy a cheap 6 foot leash (preferably a thin, light one), clip it to puppy’s collar, and tie the other end to your belt! This is called the “umbilical cord technique”. It’s a wonderful way to keep your puppy near you, and the little tugs you feel will remind you to keep an eye on him. This technique is not foolproof; you will still need to watch your puppy, but as you move through the house, you don’t need to take any barricades with you. Some puppies will chew through the leash – so watch for that. As you move around your house, with puppy in tow, make sure to provide something safe and appropriate for him to do. Bring a chew bone or a durable squeaky toy to keep him busy. I like to teach my puppies to understand the phrase “chew your bone” or “get your bone”.

As your puppy becomes more reliable, you can combine the baby gates with the umbilical cord. Untie the leash from your belt and let the puppy drag it. This MUST be done with complete supervision, because a puppy could get tangled or knock something over. If puppy gets into trouble, you catch him by simply stepping on the leash, rather than making a mad grab for a tiny dog. This works very well for the puppy who quickly learns when you are angry and won’t let you catch him. By stepping on the leash you’ve avoided a game of tag!

The BEST combination for puppy control is actually a combination of everything we’ve discussed. Puppies NEED plenty of time-out crate time and they also need supervised “free-time” to explore and learn. It’s up to you to decide how to use the steps I’ve outlined to meet your particular needs.

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsHave A Question?

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Dog Safety Essentials

Here we cover some of the DOs & DON’Ts of safety around dogs:

Safety Dog Reporting For Duty!

Safety Dog Reporting For Duty!


  • Always ask the owner’s permission before approaching or petting a dog
  • Remember: not every dog that wags its tail is friendly
  • Always approach dogs slowly and carefully
  • When meeting a new dog, let it come to you and smell you first
  • Know where the dogs in your neighborhood live
  • Stay away from stray dogs
  • If a dog approaches you, remain CALM. Don’t scream! Stand still (Be a Tree!)
  • Always protect your face, neck and arms (Be a Rock!)
  • If you are attacked, give the dog a book or backpack to chew on
  • If a dog knocks you to the ground, curl up into a ball (Be a Rock!)
  • If you are attacked, cover your head and neck. Protect your head and face
  • When a dog you don’t know comes close, be very still and avoid eye contact (Be a Tree!)
  • Always use a leash when walking a dog
  • Remain CALM around dogs.
  • When greeting a friendly dog, present the palm of your hand for the dog to sniff, first. If the dog is still friendly, then you can pet the sides of the dog’s face (his cheeks). Avoid petting the top of a dog’s head. For very friendly dogs, you can also pet the dog’s shoulders (on the side) or the dog’s chest (front of the dog).


  • Don’t make loud noises or scream around dogs
  • Do not stare at a dog
  • Don’t bother a dog while it is sleeping or eating
  • Never tease or chase a dog. (Remember The Golden Rule!)
  • Never reach through a fence to pet a dog
  • Never put your hand between two dogs
  • Never try to help a hurt dog – get an adult to help
  • Never put your face close to a dog
  • Never enter a yard with a dog in it without permission. If you don’t know if there is a dog in the yard, do not enter!
  • Never leave a baby alone with a dog
  • Never bother a mother dog while she is caring for her puppies
  • Never pull a dog’s ears or tail
  • Never try to take away a dog’s toy
  • Avoid standing over the top of a dog you are not familiar with

Should I Hit My Dog? The Answer Is No.

In dog training (or in ANY interaction with ANY species, for that matter!), there is no room for direct angry contact of any human body part (e.g. hand, foot) to any part of the dog’s body. Of course, there IS room for kind contact of any kind: petting, patting, stroking, etc.

Hitting a dog.

Sorry – Only The Cat’s Allowed To Beat The Dog…

Hitting does not teach a dog anything…

Spanking only vents YOUR anger, YOUR frustration. Slapping only teaches a dog to shy away from your hand (become hand-shy). Smacking can result in your dog snapping back at you! What other recourse does he have? He can’t tell you or even ask you to stop. He can’t push your hand or foot away. A dog’s mouth is his hand, and he will use it similarly.

Rather Use Your Voice

TONE OF VOICE (see my related article) can accomplish SO much! A correct tone of voice can stop a dog in his tracks. Your tone of voice can quickly tell your dog that you are displeased. A dog that respects your leadership will understand. Your tone of voice is what will get your dog to listen, learn and pay attention to you.

I spank my dogs all the time – but I spank them when I tell them I love them! I grab their little butts and I give them a few swats as they turn around and try to kiss me, wagging their tails the entire time. I could not hit my dogs hard enough to hurt them “to teach them a lesson”. Their coats buffer blows just as it keeps most bites from causing wounds.

When Hitting Your Dog Is OK

If I hit my dog, it is to get their attention (“HEY!”) in an urgent situation. I make sure my voice carries more weight than my touch, and I praise when they turn to look at me. My swift swat is, at this point, punctuation to my words – kind of like what a collar and leash does. And because I RARELY swat my dogs, they have learned I mean business when this happens. “HEY! Get your face out of the garbage!” “HEY! You WAIT for me!” “HEY! Leave it!”